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© JANUARY 2015

In October 2010 the head of the CQC, Dame Jo Williams, gave a lengthy interview on BBC Radio Four describing the appalling conditions in care homes closed by the health regulator as a result of their tough new inspection regime. This story had national media coverage and the CQC list of home closures was not questioned.

Compassion in Care and the magazine Private Eye obtained this list of alledged closed homes and carried out a joint investigation which proved the CQC’s claim to be untrue. The subsequent story in Issue 1274 resulted in questions being asked in Parliament and the CQC was at the centre of unprecedented scrutiny.

As subsequent revelations emerged in the weeks that followed, (see Private Eye issues 1275, 1276, 1277) the CQC veered from “no comment” to having to concede more homes each week as the battle of Truth vs Spin played out. The truth finally won the day and the list proved to be the CQC’s 101 damnations.

The consequences of CQC’s actions allowed bad homes to continue under the pretext of being a new home. These bad homes had their past history deleted from the CQC data base, as a result people placed their loved ones in homes they were led to believe had a good record of care when this was far from the truth.

Among these bad homes was A/P, a building with three units caring for frail elderly people. It is highly unlikely that people would have placed their relatives in A/P if they had been aware of the following secret information.

As far back as 2007 the home had a long history of poor care and was repeatedly threatened with enforcement action but such action was never taken. When in 2010 the CQC placed A/P on the 100 list of homes closed, vulnerable people had already suffered nearly seven years of the most appalling care conditions, which included,

– Charging extortionately high rates for care and once people moved into the home they discovered that if they needed to be fed or helped to drink they would have to pay for a care worker to do this,

– Those who could not pay had to take a chance on the home’s staff feeding them however these staff were seen to be struggling to even serve the food,

– The care agency was owned by the same company and was located in an office in the home.

– Staffing levels were consistently set way too low to meet peoples needs, people were found left laying in bed without care until late afternoon.

– Residents who could walk were seen wandering the corridors dirty, distressed and unkempt still wearing their nightclothes in the afternoon and were taken back in their rooms by staff. When questioned, staff said that those residents liked to get up late.

– Some people had pressure sores which were not treated.

– A resident is found with another person’s medication. There are large stockpiles of medication.

– The home dealt with complaints and concerns in a defensive manner, one person who complained about their relatives weight loss was told it was not true and no investigation took place.

– One person was sitting in their bedroom wearing a coat as the heating was broken.

– Staff and relatives tell inspectors there are not enough staff and they are working excessive hours being moved between the three units.

– A resident tells inspectors they have got used to not asking for anything as there is never any staff.

– People are living in total squalor, the home is filthy and smells of urine, even before entering the home you have to walk past piles of rubbish by the main entrance. Bedrooms are bare and smell. Toilets and bathrooms are filthy, stained and covered in brown smears.

– The sluice room smells foul with mops covered in brown particles nearby a hairbrush was covered in hair.

The home was asked to investigate why it failed to investigate its past failures. There were resident on resident assaults with no staff present, people were calling out for help but no staff came. Some people had severe unexplained bruising.

One resident rings the local council to say a member of staff has assaulted them. The action taken? The police ring the home manager and it is decided not to investigate further.

Since this home was protected by the CQC the below incidents have occurred, it could well be argued that subsequent events were all foreseeable as all were consistent with the level of care of provided at this home over a ten year period. Subsequent inspections are only carried out after the CQC is informed of serious concerns.

– Excessive restraint is used on frail people who do not co-operate, staff even tell inspectors that up to three staff at a time are using excessive force on people.

– Physical assaults which the management were fully aware of are not reported and no action is taken to prevent further harm to people.

– One resident suffers such severe sun burn that they require medical treatment. How this happened is not questioned.

A short while later the CQC carried out an inspection and concluded that the home met all standards. However, just a short while later the CQC are are informed by staff whistle-blowers that the most serious abuse has been happening, that the management have been informed and done nothing, this abuse includes;

– Some residents have been sexually assaulted by staff, other residents have been physically assaulted and neglected.

– Some call bells have been tied up out of reach, other people have been threatened to not use their call bells.

– People too afraid to use their call bell are left calling out for hours at a time “Please somebody help me!”. One man tells the inspectors he called out so long one day that the window cleaner outside heard him and came in to try to find staff to help him.

– Staffing levels are so low that night staff are getting people out of bed and dressed in the early hours so that the day staff can cope.

– People are being left without food or drink and a cleaner is seen at lunchtime shovelling food into one persons mouth.

– People are still living in squalor.

– A care worker tells inspectors that the home is dirty because cleaners are not cleaning but trying to care for residents.

What happened to the whistle-blowers subsequently is not mentioned but a large number of staff are reported to have left.

If the CQC had put the same effort into protecting the residents in this home that they put into protecting themselves, countless people could have been spared this suffering.

The conditions in this home are appalling and someone at the CQC should be held to account for allowing frail vulnerable people to be raped, left without food and drink and living in squalor for a decade under the noses of a regulator that used the very same home as an example of how tough a regulator they are. I can only hope the next time the Parliament asks questions about this home they ask the right questions.